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Mali Election Results Expected Thursday

Mali presidential candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita gestures after casting his ballot in Bamako, Mali, 28, July, 2013.
Election officials in Mali are expected to release provisional results Thursday from the country's presidential election.

The Sunday vote was seen as a first step toward Mali's recovery after 18 months of unrest that included a military coup and Islamists taking over the country's north.

The results had been expected Wednesday, but officials said they needed more time to verify vote counts sent in by individual polling stations nationwide.

A partial count earlier this week showed former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita with a comfortable lead. Territorial administration minister Colonel Moussa Sinko Coulibaly said if the vote margin remained the same, there would be no need for a runoff vote.

Other candidates rejected that conclusion. Leaders for rival Soumaila Cisse's party said Wednesday they expect a second round.

Sunday's election was peaceful and had a relatively high voter turnout, with some areas reporting it at more than 50 percent.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.